WITLESS 2005-6

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WITLESS 2006-7

 

A colourful summary of the season gone...
The Art of Captaincy

Reflections on a season in charge by Oliver Stuart Dawson Crabb

            Captaincy is all about style, grace, facial hair and very occasionally about winning. When first asked to don the cap and lead the St Radegund into battle I decided to research the tactics and theories of the greatest captains the world has ever seen: Kirk, Ahab, Scarlet, Caveman and Beefheart. However, this only led to being stuck in the belly of a whale with strings tied to my arms and legs while alien girls beat me with clubs singing "Big Eyed Beans from Venus…" An inauspicious start, although not wholly unpleasurable.

            The next straw which I clutched at was the world 'Art' itself. As a modestly skilled painter, I struck upon a crucial idea. Could the art of captaincy be 'Art'. Each member of my team would be a colour, a line, a shape which I would mould throughout a game, composing a picture, a vignette of cricketing ability. The vibrant red/orange menace of the Beard, the dashing curves of Millie and Jugs, the minimalism of Evans' spin, the textured washes of Sipper’s wicket keeping, Bones' cubist fielding, the dour greys of Shelton’s stroke play and the complete surrealism of John Aspden. Eureka!

            There were games this year where water played a large part (Westcott, Free Press and the Grads re-match rained off), like a watercolour done in the field - brief lines and patches of colour - but I was unable to develop them into the intended masterpiece. Depressed about this inability to create, I did what any self respecting painter would do, and got hideously drunk. I think this early period, exemplified by the "Jesus Triptych", will be remembered for the close finishes, as the dark tones of the sun sinking bellow the horizon bathed our attempts to overhaul the students’ totals in a golden hue.

             The middle period was a time for experimentation, to test the limits of my palette. At the time I didn't realize quite how limited that would actually be. The Queens Head, The Free Press, Slimbridge, Champion of the Thames and the Blue Ball all saw new elements in my work. Outside and foreign influences continued to have an uncontrollable effect on the results, but at the same time the experimentation bore positive and interesting fruit: My harem of cricketing wenches showed excellent improvement in both skills and stamina, new, young players grasped the nettle that is St Radegund cricket and the confirmation that our style as creators is based around a shared love of heroic amounts of beer. Experimentation continued into the later period, the Vera's being a 6-a-side for the first time proved to be a success, the format lending itself to drinking lots with occasional bits of cricket thrown in. Each game was a small etching, leading on in theme and style from the previous, like Goya's Los Caprichos.

            Finally, as an artist I spread my wings, and with an easel under one arm, and a pipe in the other, I set my sights on the big city, London. Victory here and recognition from the Art community in the capital would be assured, defeat would only bring more years struggling for recognition. For the third time this year, The St Radegund won a cricket match, and the summer came to an end. Our attention turned to the true masters of the modern era (Englandvs. Australia), and dreams of yet more fine work to be produced by next years skipper.

            My stint as captain has ended, the work I have produced has moved from the early realist phase, through the blue period, settling in a style of cricket that was at different times abstract, surreal, cubist and utterly minimal in its exhibition of talent.

‘Skipp-ered

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... a pseudo-history of one of cricket's great pseudo-relics...

The Legend of the Holy Ball of St Radegund

...and how it ended up back in the pub

            The origins of the Holy Ball of St Radegund have for many years been the subject of debate among historians. One theory, first proposed by Rabbi Brows of Lodz and claiming 11th Century Kabalistic writings as its principle authority, contends that the orb was the one used by David of Jerusalem when he bowled the beamer that felled Goliath of Gath in the days before protective helmets. Such an important lineage is, naturally, of significance to Jewish scholars, but need not detain us here.

            Recent Church scholarship on the blessed Saint has been undermined by the publication of the international best-seller The Dalwhinnie Code by Dan Brown. Among many claims, the author makes a highly spurious case for the blessed ball having been used by Pilate to pin Christ leg before wicket for XXX in the first Test at the Golgotha Oval around 30 A.D. As a rebuttal to these wild allegations it is an earnest and solemn duty to set the record straight once and for all.

            For the first recorded use of the holy relic by St Radegund we must turn to her official hagiographer Venantius Fortunatus, writing only three years after her death in 587 A.D. Forced into marriage with her captor Lothar (sometimes Clothair or Clothears, the Frankish warrior king and self-styled Champignon of the Seine), she maintained her virginity in the face of her husband’s barbarous attentions. Often though, piety alone was insufficient, and the devout girl was forced to resort to acts of deception. As Fortunatus writes:

‘At night, when she lay with her prince she would ask leave to rise and leave the chamber to relieve nature. Then she would prostrate herself in prayer under a hair cloak by the privy whence she produced a crimson ball used in the game of criqué. Re-entering the chamber thereafter, she did show Clothair her husband the orb saying that, this being the time of the month, she was unclean and would not lie with him. Clothair, being poor of sight, was sore afraid.

            Following the foundation (c.552) of the Convent of Our Lady of Poitiers, St Radegund began to petition Emperor Justinian the Great for relics from the Holy Land to sanctify her convent. Her second petition, for a fragment of the True Cross, the Emperor granted. In Brown’s account this becomes a request for some autographed sporting paraphernalia, including the Holy Ball (which as we have already seen, was in her possession!). The confusion arises, I think, out of Mr. Brown’s mistranslation of the Latin maleficus as ‘wicket’ rather than ‘wicked’.
            The first mention of the Holy Ball after St Radegund's death is in the 12th Century, by which time the cult of the Saint had reached England. For a time the relic was believed to reside in the side altar of the parish church of St Mary Hinge in Bushney Muffett. This belief turned the sleepy Cambridgeshire village into a place of pilgrimage renowned throughout Europe, and led directly to the foundation of the Nunnery of St Mary and St Radegund in nearby Cambridge, upon whose site Jesus College now stands. Whether this was indeed the true ball of the Saint we shall never know: the demand for saintly relics in Mediaeval England was so great that many fake objects purporting to be genuine were bought and sold freely, and often fetched huge sums of money at auction on Yebay.
            The problems of authentication were further evinced when in 1228 a group of English noblemen, believing that the true ball resided in Jerusalem and having nothing better to do, gathered themselves in King Street to plan a Crusade to the Holy Land with the aim of liberating the ball and other Christian possessions from Muslim hands. They numbered eleven - among them Sir Fattingdon of Oxford, Sir Sippalot of York and Sir Hute of Milton -and incorporated as the Knights of the Long Table, they traveled by ship to the Near East, during which voyage Sir Fattingdon set a record for drinking fifty-two flasks of cider. They fought a total of five battles against Sultan Malik Al-Kamil’s forces, liberated Jerusalem and the Holy Places, and won the rubber 3-2.

            Their campaign a success, the Knights returned in triumph to Cambridge, and celebrated their feat by chasing the ball down King Street and stopping off in every pub on the way. For years it was assumed that this event was the origin of the King Street Run, but recent scholarship by Dr E. Haslemere of the University of Cambridge suggests this is bollocks. The ball was restored to the Nunnery but was lost after its dissolution prior to the foundation of Jesus College in 1496.

            Thereafter the true ball’s whereabouts remained a mystery until just last year. In June 2004 our own Terence Kavanagh was leafing through a copy of the Catholic Herald over a coffee and a Rothmans in Cazimir. Eschewing the numerous interminable articles on the role of women in the Church, the abuse of children by priests, and doctrinal problems of the Trinity, he instead turned to the Classifieds where he found an advertisement for a Vatican Car Boot Sale to be held in the Holy City just before Christmas.

            Divinely inspired, Bunter dispatched young Westcott curate Tim Harling to Rome to locate the true relic of the Saint and restore it to Cambridge. This he did, having bought the ball from one Cardinal Ratzinger for less than the price of a cappuccino. So it was that on the 9th December 2004 at a Mass to celebrate the 150th Anniversary of the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, the Pontiff John Paul II formally recognized the ball as being the true relic of St Radegund and promptly gave it his blessing. Within months the Pope was dead.

‘The Cardinals‘

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Fun at the landlord's expense...

Bunter Bingo

Tired of Su Doku? Bored of the Crossword? While away those long evenings in the St. Radegund with the pen and pencil game that’s sweeping the nation… sort of

How to Play. Cut out the cards above and divide between three players. Cross off the familiar phrases as they trip lightly from Terry’s tongue. The player who ticks off the most phrases wins. In the event of lack of interest then the player who drinks most beer is the winner. The cards can also be downloaded from www.radegund.co.uk/bunterbingo

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A spoof ad celebrating the diligence of the team scorer...

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The St Radegund's Women's captain gives her take on their inaugural season...

"We're Ladies..."

            The Ladies of the St Radegund – in a few words: sophisticated, graceful, charming, elegant. Need I say more?

            One beautiful après luncheon the Ladies of the St Radegund were congregating in this fine establishment, sipping the grandest of beverages, discussing the usual: fine arts, English Literature and gentlemen’s sport, when all of a sudden one came across a splendid and most wonderful idea – to which a chap would be most impressed… how about our own Ladies Cricket Team? Golly!!! The giggles of excitement and chatter filled the St Radegund in increased volume. Indeed a splendid idea one thought. Hear Hear!

…And so it happened ‘We’ were born. Jolly good going.

            We gathered in the appropriate manner to discuss the ins and outs of what a lady must do to play this sport. Bonnets and scarves aside, ladies, we must go forth and conquer. Lady Jaks and I mustered up our team of fillies and off we trotted to Parker's Piece where we engaged in learning to throw a ball. One thought one would know how to throw such a thing (with practice at throwing things at siblings surely it couldn’t be that hard!!). Nevertheless we mastered this action, soon following on to bowling, fielding, bating etc. (oh, and looking beautiful).

            Over the weeks with guidance from our resident cricketing genius Young Master Oliver and Master Richie of the NCI we were ready to go out into the World of Cricket, and here we played our first ever game against the Papworth Ladies. The Enemy!! Nail files and parasols will have to stay at home, girls!!! A lady in this scenario must hold a certain decorum however beastly one may feel. We played jolly well if I do say so myself. And we let them win, naturally. Remember, we are both polite and generous.

            Several of us were honoured to play amongst the Chaps this year. We hid the giggling and the fluttering of eyelids and became animals on the field, growling and trying to catch the opposition off guard. Home and away games were played, and honourable gentlemen we were. Well done girls!! And thank you boys for allowing s this opportunity to grow and learn this magnificent game.

            We finished the season in a mixed game with the NCI club in a gruelling, nail-biting contest. We played well and came out glowing with pride knowing that we had played hard and put everything we had into it.

            I think I speak on behalf of all the ladies who have given their time and enthusiasm in saying thank you to everyone for their support, coaching and words of wisdom, and giving us this opportunity to create our own Ladies Cricket Team. We are surely to grow into fine sportsmen and with the new season ahead of us, it is indeed a new dawn.

Millie Thorne

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Crabbo Junior on this year's Champ game...

Last Balls at the Bar, please..!

            Sunday 7th August 2005 will forever be ingrained in the memories of cricket lovers the world over. Two Behemoths of bat and ball locked horns for a game of tense thrilling cricket, trading blow for blow, each refusing to tire. But that’s enough about the Edgbaston Test Match, it’s Rad vs Champ day!

            I walked out for the toss with Mike (Wilson) and Lawrence (Dixon) with the image of Stephen Harmison charging in taking the last crucial wicket still in our heads. To my amazement, I won (or at least Mike called incorrectly).

            “We'll have a bat”. (Ponting's mistake on the first day was still lingering in my head). I shook hands with Mike and Lawrence and as I wandered back I attempted to compose a strategy for the game. It was as if the cricketing God's came and whispered in my ear the secret that had been eluding English captains for generations: score more runs than the opposition. Could it really be that easy?

            Opening with myself and the Eagle shaped Solicitor (Thomas Hedley Lewis), we put on 82 for the first wicket, the foundations had been laid for a late assault. Things were progressing nicely, Tom retired on 50, Fatty smote 45, Sipper heaved 23 and the Beard brewed up a quick 16no at the end of our 35 overs. I gazed at the scoreboard in disbelief, 215-5!! Did my eyes deceive me? Happily, Eyebrows had not deceived me, and that it was true, we had scored over 200. Aye Carumba!!

            I settled into my sandwiches and rum cake (delightfully prepared once again by Catherine Dixon) and mulled over the situation. 1-1 with 3 tests to go, McGrath injured, Flintoff and Jones finding form with the ball, dare I think the unthinkable? Rod nudged me and I remembered what I was doing there, so I poured myself another beer. It then occurred to me that the Champ had yet to bat, and with a few unknowns in their line up, I would need to draw on all my cricketing skill to win the game. Failing that I would get drunk.

            The Champ set off at a rollicking rate, but with each change in the bowling came another dropped catch (myself a culprit). Ah, reality, such a fickle mistress. The opening batsmen both retired, the bowlers were retarded and all of a sudden the Rad started holding catches, but was it all too late?

            Razza decided she needed the toilet and a sub was called for, our very own Gary Pratt, clad in black lycra like a Goth exercise instructor, John ‘Space Cadet’ Aspden took the field and some wag in the crowd commented “He's the only gay in the village!” As the assembled throng composed itself, the game continued and Tom palmed the ball over the boundary as young Alfie won his side bet with Grassy.

            Meanwhile, Rod was using all his guile and long- winded stories to winkle out the batsmen, finishing his stint with 7-0-37-4 and in search of more cigarette papers. The finale to a magnificent game approached: Warne trod on his stumps but Lee and Kasprowicz defied Flintoff and Harmison, dragging the Aussies ever closer, who would breast the tape first?

            Fatty and I finished off the overs, with the cider-meister taking the wickets of Martin and Bartholomew to leave the Champ needing 4 of the last over. With the man who has so often been a thorn in the St Radegund side, ‘Pistol’ Pete Twitchett still at the crease, singles were scampered. 2 balls left, one run to win...

            As I wandered off shaking the hands of Rad and Champ man alike, I began to reflect on the day: a nasty bouncer into the ribs from Harmison, a flinching fend away from Kasprowicz to be snaffled down the leg side by Jones, we had beaten Australia!! But had lost to the Champ. Bugger. So close to retaining the butt-ugly King Street Trophy, but close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades. Back to the drawing board, but not before the refreshments back at HQ. A splendid day and a wonderful match played in the right spirit by both sides, another fine chapter in that the trashy novella that is the King Street Trophy. As I laid my head in the gutter, I dreamt of what might have been, and what still could be, could England regain the Ashes.......?

Skippy

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A change of format for this year's Veras game...

Three Sheets Again, or The Tale of Three Hangovers

            Sour belly, fuzzy head, and a mouth that tastes like a sumo wrestlers jock-strap. What a way to wake up ready for the annual Vera’s match. Mind you I knew I would not be alone, it being the morning after Rod and Jak’s wedding, and only 2 days after the stag.

            We meet at the Rad on a dull overcast day, most of us still needing the relief of sunglasses, and weeks of team planning come to nought when it’s realised that nobody is in a fit state to play tiddlywinks let alone cricket. Gaps left by those missing in action (went down with the bottle – presumed asleep), were filled by those not quick enough to leave the pub and urgent phone calls to the living dead, made up 4 teams: Yorkshire (who more closely resembled the puddings than the county), Vera’s, The Dawsons and Rad Miscellaneous.

            Now the day before it had rained…a lot. So a sodden Jesus awaited the assembled mess. No sooner are we there and the beer is tapped and… it rains again! Groans of pleasure signal a renewed effort at Beard’s latest most welcome brew.

            It clears – the weather that is, not my head, and Sipper for some reason is all for playing… Why in God’s name? Just let me die. Some masochists decide they should warm up. ‘Keep your eye on the ball when you’re fielding’. Sage advice from Ollie the ladies’ coach taken a wee bit too literally by Llinos, who keeps her eye on the ball right up to the point when it connects with her temple… Told you practice is bad for you.

            First game: Yorkshire v Rad.Tom(31no) and Sipper(36no) dominate a batting score setting a score of 94 without loosing wicket.The Rad didn’t loose a wicket as well, but sadly Spud and Mille only scored 6 between them. A well-lubricated Extras scored 26… Yorkshire suddenly the side to watch (well in Llinos’s case half-watch, through a fast developing shiner).

            Game two: Veras v Dawsons. Again more rain disrupts play (what the *$%& are we doing out here?). Fatty(35no) and Stella(under 35 honest) open. One looks like she’s just stepped of the cat-walk. The other looks like the cat spat him out. Fine knock though despite this, with Russ(27no) and Jak(Mrs) brings a total of 80. For the Dawsons, Lisa and Gareth open, with Lisa outscoring Gareth (the practice helps). Greenfly (not a Dawson, J.D. insists), does an Aspden impression and runs himself out. Llinos does the same in fine style, leaving Ollie(10) to bring the Dawsons up to 43.

            Game the third, where we see Yorkshire (in the shape of Sipper and Sarah) score 46 for no loss against the Dawsons with again Extras(36) dominating. Ten out of ten for entertainment value went to P.O.D for the most elaborate preparation and run-up for his first ball, which resulted in the ball going six foot wide of the wicket. The next four fared no better. J.D. is in fine form in the outfield, after drinking Absinthe until the wee hours. For one shot to the boundary, he sets off like a startled gazelle. Sadly the gazelle had been shot three years earlier and is now mounted on the library wall. The Dawson’s innings starts with the champagne moment, Aspden clean bowling J.D. for a golden duck. Gareth(10) and Ollie(10) hold things together to bring up 33.Yorkshire in the final (you don’t hear that often do you?)

            Game four: Rad v Veras. Not much to say really. Rad bat with Gange(17) and Joe(3) to get 60. Russ(28) and Jak(2) (with a lot of help from Extras) tot off 62 in 4 overs.

            The final Veras v Yorkshire. Yorkshire bat. Fine knock by Tom (36no), is almost undone when Sipper (no not Aspden) is run out by a fine throw from Haslemere. A nervous (or is that hungover) Beard lets every ball go past him allowing Extras to shoot up to 31, bringing the total to 73. Oooh I can feel the tension in the cheap seats.

            Fatty and Russ open for Veras setting a fine pace, fair tonking around the place. To their alarm they end up running 5. Oxygen is called for. No problem though as Veras run away to a victory with 5 balls to spare.

            Then someone looks at the pitch… oops. Attempts to move the heavy roller fail (he’s gone back to open the pub), leaving the bizarre sight of 10 people trying to tap down divots that wouldn’t be out of place in the Somme.

            Ah well, it’s the last game of the season at Jesus so we’re ok. Veras is finally over, so we all go home early to get ready for work the day after…yeah right. Pint of Cider please, Terry.

'Bread Of

...a rare away game in Essex.

Police Five

            Late August saw the St. Radegund mob making an unsteady but profitable trip to the Smoke. The leafy environs of the Metropolitan Police Ground at Chigwell may have little of the edge of inner city Harringay, but what they lack in knife fights they make up for in lemon drizzle cake and fine stabling. Thus is set the scene for a smash-and-grab raid of unprecedented audacity. What follows may chill the marrow of the stoniest of hearts.

            John “Wheels” Aspden was proceeding in a southerly direction with the ‘crew’ safely – if noisily concealed in the rear of the Milton smash ’n’ grab wagon. A leafy detour through Epping Forest, haunt of highwaymen of yore and Estate Agents of dread memory fired the (limited) imagination of the Rad’s felonious crowd.

            An early arrival at the ground saw Ollie ‘Flipper’Crabb drooling in anticipation at the lavish turn on offer whilst Rod ‘Fingers’Thomas unearthed previously undreamt of tools of cricketing burglary – namely the one that pitched and didn’t go straight on.

            The home team’s arrival prompted the first mutiny of the day as Beard jumped ship and changed sides, won the toss and elected to bat, promptly lost the Oakdale captaincy and retired to the conveniently placed barrel for solace.

            The home side’s innings got off to a predictably disastrous start when Millie induced Keith to launch a wild heave at a leg side ball. Cue a pirouette Pavlova would have been proud of –and hit wicket. Things went from bad to worse as a succession of Oakdale batsmen flashed wildly at the weird and wonderful offerings of ‘Wheels’ Aspden before Millie snaffled the skipper, Guy, for another duck, courtesy of a fine one handed take by Haslemere. 33 for 4.

            At this point Chris Howell decided to stage a solitary naked fielding protest, but as nobody understood what he was protesting about or why, and he was too drunk to remember - we’ll skip over this distasteful episode with nothing more said.

            The Oakdale middle order staged a recovery of sorts, but whilstsoever “Flipper’ Crabb was turning the ball square, life at the crease was never going to be easy. Highlight of the day was a beautiful combination of leg breaks followed by the flipper which accounted for Phil ‘Jaapi’ Stringbandit. A few lusty blows from a belligerent Beard and some fine scampered running from Dave “2” amidst tumbling wickets took the score onto a barely respectable 99 (and several flakes) at the close of the Oakdale innings.

            Lunch was taken in the fine surroundings of the stables. Yet more beer came and went. Chris Howell was declared Absent Without Leave.

            And Lo! the Radegund innings began with those free scoring Colossi – Aspden and ‘Stonewall’ Shelton. A scant half hour later ‘Wheels’ was back in the pavilion – retired no less! - after a run-a-ball innings that few had thought possible- perhaps the Radegund has finally found a player who can do the job sober – shame on you skipper!

            South African Phil accounted for all the Radegund wickets to fall beginning with the indefatigable Shelton for 10 after an innings of over an hour.

            The Radegund’s serene progress continued until the fifteenth over and the comedy introduction of a truly beered Beard. Bowling swiftly, down the (considerable) hill he attempted to commit ABH on the luckless “Little’ Jack Anderson whereupon several edges, flinches and general buffoonery all failed to go to hand. At the other end Sam the Eagle launched some lusty blows until a fine off-the-ground effort from JP saw him caught in the deep, leaving ‘Flipper the Skipper’ to see the side comfortably home with some elegant stroke play.

            Somebody found Chris ‘Streaker’ Howell and we repaired to the Oakdale for a restorative– if late, Sunday lunch and lashings of good beer. Millie and Spud were obviously overwrought by proceedings and had to be escorted from the premises in a fast car. The victorious skipper was presented with a truly bad trophy – currently in pride of place behind the bar! Several hours later the various criminal elements of the Radegund were removed by prison van to a Cambridge lock-up (well driven, Mr. Aspden).

            One final note remains. Jack Lawlor-Anderson failed to pay his minibus fees. He was tried, found guilty and transported to Australia. Crime doesn’t pay.

‘Bin Laden’

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St Radegund public house, 129 King Street. Cambridge CB1 1LD. Tel: 01223 311794